I have never written a blog post before, and I have never written about my personal trauma. Both of these endeavors sound scary and make me want to slam my laptop shut. However, I decided to show up for myself in whatever imperfect, beautiful messy way I could.
I am a proud member of the Valley Self-Defense team. My role is not sweaty or loud: I pay the bills when they come in and I like to refer to myself as a “creative force” in the business.
I wish I could tell you that I love practicing Krav Maga, but it would not be true. Maybe some of you reading this have been in a seminar or class with me. If so, you already know that I cry almost every class and HATE the end of the women’s seminar running through the obstacle course. Honestly, I have not really ever wanted to take a class or seminar. Several times I showed up under duress, as I was concerned that Peter would be upset with me if I didn’t attend. Although I make it through the classes, I would often silently suffer. I have not ever tried to explain what it feels like at a class, but when an instructor would touch me or put their arms or hands around my neck I felt re-traumatized and unstable.
Even though I don’t love it, Krav Maga brought me to a pivotal point in my journey towards healing from trauma.
I had several very uncomfortable and traumatic episodes at seminars and at a Permit to Carry class led by a former Krav Maga instructor. While taking the class I suffered a very serious flashback and became completely disorientated. Luckily the instructor was also a psychologist and he noticed very quickly what was happening to me. The panic and fear I felt was so overwhelming. I somehow made it through the class and attempted to go to the gun range after and ended up sobbing in the ladies bathroom. I felt as though that experience was a set-back in my healing.
Shortly after my experience at the Permit to Carry class, I sought more intensive trauma therapy. Honestly, I felt like a failure, I had been in therapy for years, took classes, read books, “pushed through”, yet, here I was in such rough shape. Outwardly, I looked good, but inwardly, I was a mess. I had suicidal ideation; I was in a daily panic attack that just would not let up.
I stopped going to Krav Maga classes and seminars, I stopped going to the gun range and I worked really hard to change the internal dialogue. Often the message in our culture is “push though the fear,” but trauma and fear are NOT the same. My big takeaways from my “pause” was to re-align and start to practice self-compassion. I stopped wanting to “fit-in” and go at another person’s or society’s pace. I said no when asked to do things that were not good for my soul.
When I look back, the most difficult and challenging times in my life all have one thing in common: no self-compassion. I had to make peace with the fact that I don’t “like” to fight or scream and punch others. I appreciate that I am able to do those things, but I just don’t gravitate towards those activities. I feel passionately that self-defense and self-advocacy need to be part of my life and can be part of my healing. I have learned to go at “my own pace” without apology. I can take a class now, but need to work with Danae or Shelly. I am allowed to stop, cry, take a break when needed. I worked 1:1 with Peter to become more comfortable with guns. Sometimes we can only look at and talk about it for 10 minutes, but we pick it up again when I am able. I recently went back to the gun range with Peter for the first time in several years. I was ready. We took some deep breaths, I gave myself a compassionate little pep talk and my first shot was dead center!
Wherever you are, I encourage you to show compassion to yourself and your journey. At Valley Self-Defense we want to be part of your healing and welcome you as you are to move at your own pace!
All Valley Self-Defense instructors have been trained in trauma-informed care and how to help those handling trauma in a Krav Maga class. For anyone with anxiety about trying Krav Maga, we are happy to meet with you in person or speak with you over the phone. To connect with us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you've experienced trauma before stepping on the mat, you aren't alone. I discuss the experiences that brought me to Krav Maga and the reason I not only stayed, but became an instructor and school owner.
If we say that exercise helps our mental health, we can't disconnect our feelings from it. This is why owner and instructor Danae Hudson cries on the mat during Krav Maga.
Krav Maga near me? There is! If you're looking for a Krav Maga class near you, Valley Self-Defense is a proud member of the International Krav Maga Federation with schools located across the United States. To find a school near you, visit the IKMF USA website.